A special CBI court in Haryana’s Panchkula on Tuesday deferred pronouncement of the quantum of sentence on self-styled godman and Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh and four others convicted in a 19-year-old murder case.
Earlier this week, the Dera Sacha Sauda chief was convicted in a third case relating to conspiring to murder his former manager, Ranjit Singh, in 2002.
He has been undergoing a 20-year sentence at the high-security Sunaria jail in Rohtak, 250 kms from state capital Chandigarh, for raping his two disciples, and was sentenced to life for the murder of a journalist in 2002.
Ram Rahim, 52, attended the day-long hearing relating to the pronouncement of sentence virtually. He pleaded for mercy on the plea of the charitable works that the sect carried out when he was heading.
Ranjit Singh, a former follower of Ram Rahim, was shot dead by four assailants on July 10, 2002, at his native Khanpur Kolian village in Kurukshetra district.
CBI counsel H.P.S. Verma told the media that the prosecution and defense counsel concluded their arguments.
“The case was adjourned for the next hearing on the plea of the convicts that they need time to file replies,” he said, adding the court listed the matter for next hearing on October 18.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sought death sentence for Ram Rahim.
The special CBI court had convicted Ram Rahim and four others on October 8 in the murder case.
The CBI plea was that Ranjit Singh was murdered as Ram Rahim suspected that he was behind the circulation of an anonymous letter that revealed the sexual exploitation of woman followers at the dera.
His conviction on August 25, 2017, in raping his two disciples had led to violence in Panchkula and Sirsa, leaving 41 people dead and over 260 injured.
Ram Rahim was patronised by political leaders and parties in Punjab and Haryana for nearly two decades due to his ability to influence the votes of his followers.